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Monthly Archives: March 2005

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Pretend like you know what I’m talking about

How much is your anonymity worth to you? Because anonymity is a double edged sword, the privacy you cherish is the same privacy that people can hide behind when they take jabs at you. And really, who wants to be sucker-punched by someone they don’t even know? It hurts anyway.

Everyone’s life has different facets and each facet has its own appropriate time, place, and circle of friends. My blog is a personal place for my friends. I don’t know if I want haters, and I don’t want traffic due to morbid curiosity either. That’s why, I think, I publish some things on other websites but not on my blog. You can’t please everyone all the time. At least let the grouchy people keep to the forums. :p

Does this not make any sense darlings? Heh. It does to me.

Nod and smile, smile and nod. 🙂

Rubaiyaat xiii-xv

xiii- (Regrets)

To think that I have wept for the fourteen hundred years
That have passed between the time of the Messenger and I
Yet spent my night in play while he in longing tears
Lord guide me by his piety before I too should die.

***

xiv-

If ever you should find me
In prayer, in tears, at night
Don’t ask me what’s wrong
For once, things might be right.

***

xv- (The intellectual is sometimes suffocated under the weight of his own arguments)

Seek seek seek, and man says ye shall find
But man for all his seeking has left his faith behind
Swiftly how he races now in philosophical discontent
Tightly how his eyes closed now to plain truths that his Lord has sent.

i-v
vi-xii

This is one of the more amusing pictures I brought back from the UAE. This dress, it called to me from a boutique window, it beckoned and said, “Take me to your leader!”

At which point I stopped in my tracks, shook my head uncertainly and asked the dress to repeat itself.

“Excuse me?” I said unsurely to the store window, “Did you just ask me something?”

The beads (all one million of them) shook malevolently and the bottom of the dress started turning funny colors (check the photo!). The dress thundered “FOOLISH HUMAN!” and I took off running before it could threaten to suck my brain out. This mannequin was actually an alien. How do I know? Because it was dressed like a belly dancer from space.

Thank you and goodnight.

Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ileihi Rajioon

What do you say to a friend who has lost someone that they loved, that they really, really loved, in the strongest, most affectionate sense of the word. What if they passed away unexpectedly. What if you called up your friend and could hear the trembling of their voice and their complete inability to stop crying. Has anyone ever been comforted by hearing, ‘I’m sorry’?

I don’t know. I remember that when my grandfather died I thought I would never smile, not ever again. I was fifteen, and it was the first time I had ever lost anyone, and although I had not been exceedingly close to my grandfather, and he had been ‘dying’ of cancer for the last few years, it was still a shock, and it was still painful.

Emotion is relative and grief can’t be measured. It hits you, washes over you in waves until you’re so far down that you can’t imagine coming up again. When you think of that someone being gone, really gone, then part of you dies as well. It’s possible to feel a part of your heart suffocating, giving up, and then blackening. You can feel yourself becoming bitter. You wonder why God would allow you to love a person so strongly when he was just going to take her away. Cruelty. It all seems like cruelty. That is, if you think of her as gone.

She’s not. She’s not gone, darling, she’s just gone ahead. You will meet her again, and she will be fresh and young and alive. You and she will sit, as you did in this life, down together over food and laughter and the company you miss now. She will be the same person, she will love you no less than she did in this life.

It seems unfair, insensitive, downright horrible to tell you to not be sad. It’s natural to be sad, but whatever you do, don’t despair. Despair is an insult to God’s promise, to the fact that He very beautifully, very reassuringly stated, “My mercy overcomes My wrath.”

And remember that God said in the Qur’an,

“In the case of those who say, “Our Lord is Allah., and, further, stand straight and steadfast, the angels descend on them;”

“Fear ye not!” (they suggest), “Nor grieve! but receive the Glad Tidings of the Garden (of Bliss), the which ye were promised!”

“We are your protectors in this life and in the Hereafter: therein shall ye have all that your souls shall desire; therein shall ye have all that ye ask for!- A hospitable gift from one Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful!”

The Holy Qur’an: Surah Ha-Mim 41:30-32

Truly, in remembering God do hearts find rest.

Masha’Allah

I used to wonder about people who were always muttering prayers under their breath, whether they were doing it consciously, whether they were doing it just to show how much Arabic they could memorize. That was back when my understanding of applied religion was much shallower. I can’t say it’s too terribly deep now, but I do at least know (SubhanAllah) that a person with true sincerity doesn’t give a hot-diggety damn whether other people see them muttering prayers to God or not. To them, it wouldn’t matter if the whole world thought they were crazy for it, because the world and everyone in it, with all their powers combined, still can’t pass a judgment as important or well-founded as God’s.

On a more basic level, this is something I had to overcome when Masha’Allah and Insha’Allah and Alhamdulillah first started creeping into my vocabulary. I was embarrassed at first, not in front of my non-Muslim friends- because they already knew I was crazy and didn’t care what I was muttering about- but in front of my Muslim friends. It’s sad, the judgment of our peers sometimes weighs more heavily than it should. I didn’t want them to think that I was trying to be religious just to show off, or trying to be so lame that I couldn’t think of anything but MashaAllah in a conversation.

I passed Mr. Brown’s with a B!

Hey man, that’s F****-awesome!

MashaAllah…

*roll eyes* (that religious weirdo is at is again)

There was a lot I had to overcome in order to finally put the Subhan’Allah’s into my vocabulary. There was the self-consciousness (as seen above) as well as the fear of hypocrisy. I had always been wary of saying Masha’Allah, because in this culture people use Masha’Allah in a lot of ways that are not necessarily correct. Sometimes this religious phrase is used superstitiously, and could easily be substituted with ‘knock on wood.’

She’s so pretty!

Quick, say Masha’Allah! / Quick, knock on wood!

MashaAllah is also used as a bashful way of saying thank you instead of sincerely praising God for the compliment.

Wow, your hair is so pretty!

*girl blushes* Aw, MashaAllah…

And worst of all, it’s also used as a pick-up line. I’ve walked past groups of young men and heard MashaAllah’s and SubhanAllah’s that I know were not praising God. (Don’t worry, they weren’t for me, I just heard em, heh.) And then there’s the Masha’Allah leer: greasy man looks at you and says MashaAlllaaaaaah…

And then there was the Bosnian wedding that went like this, as seen by a friend of mine:

The wedding guests are sitting around the tables. At the far end of the hall a door opens and the bride enters in all her splendor. The DJ pushes play on a track that begins with a soft, melodic, MashaaaaaAllaaaaaah, MaashaaaaaAllaaaaah…

The bride takes a few steps, and then a heavy bass kicks in.

dooofdooofdooofdooof, MashaAllah, MashaAllah, doofdoof, MashaAllah!

It’s a techno song. The guests are thrilled. They hop up onto the tables, both men and women, and begin dancing. My shocked and horrified friend leaves the wedding crying.

Masha’Allah is used sarcastically even, and I remember standing in a packed elevator at the ISNA convention some years ago as one brother was entering all the floor numbers for the various people, and somehow, the whole panel reset. All the entries were lost. His friend turned angrily to him and said, “What did you do? Masha’Allah!”

Ma means what. Sha‘ is want or will. Allah is God. Masha’Allah means ‘What God willed.‘ It is a reminder to us, who, when we are pleased with a situation, should remember that it is Allah’s will, and we should thank Him for it. Instead of turning it into a meaningless catch-phrase to ward off superstition or make inappropriate passes at girls in masjids, we need to take it back to what it really is: MashaAllah is zhikr. It is the audible escape of Taqwa through the lips. MashaAllah is a beautiful phrase. Let it be so.

On Pain

And a woman spoke, saying, “Tell us of Pain.”

And he said:

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;

And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.

And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

Much of your pain is self-chosen.

It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.

Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquillity:

For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,

And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

Khalil Jibran